The Writers’ Guild of America has begun a strike across television and film production, its first strike in 15 years.
The picketing is planned for Amazon/Culver Studios, CBS Radford and CBS Television City, Disney’s Burbank headquarters, Netflix’s Hollywood facility, and the FOX, Sony, Paramount, Warner Bros and Universal studio lots in Los Angeles.
— Variety (@Variety) May 2, 2023
— Writers Guild of America West (@WGAWest) April 27, 2023
— Phillip Iscove (@pmiscover) May 2, 2023
— Murray 🇺🇸🇬🇧🇺🇦 (@MurrayGoGo41) May 2, 2023
— Megan Amram (@meganamram) May 2, 2023
In New York, picketing will take place at Peacock’s Newfront at Center415 and at Netflix HQ in Manhattan.
Join the WGA as we picket the @peacock NewFronts in New York to ask for a fair contract on May 2, from 1:30 to 4:00 p.m., at 415 5th Avenue.
— Writers Guild of America, East (@WGAEast) May 2, 2023
Let me just add that the New York picket line had the brilliant Tony Kushner:
“It’s truly appalling the short-sightedness, greed and absolute indifference to the lives of the people who create the product that enriches them. That’s disgusting.”
— 𝙿 𝚝 𝚛 𝚁. @prex4 May 2, 2023
Talk shows included The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel Live! AND The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallonthey are set to dim. Late Night with Seth Meyers AND The daily show will also be hit, while showing how Saturday Night Live, in real time with Bill Maher AND Last week tonight with John Oliver they are set to be similarly affected.
The next impact will likely be daytime TV, especially soap operas, which generally have a production schedule underway.
The WGA seeks compensation and residual earnings, and curbs mini-rooms, where teams of writers work prior to the production of a television series to break up stories and write scripts. The guild has argued that producers are able to compensate writers more fairly.
“The survival of writing as a profession is at stake in this negotiation,” the WGA said, noting that many members who previously made a living are finding it much more difficult these days.
“Driven in large part by the shift to streaming, writers are seeing their work devalued across every part of the business. While the company’s profits have remained high and content spending has grown, writers are lagging behind,” the WGA said in a statement. “Companies have used the streaming transition to cut writers’ pay and separate writing from production, worsening the working conditions of series writers at all levels.
“The behavior of the companies has created a gig economy within a union workforce, and their unshakeable position in this negotiation has betrayed their commitment to further devalue the writing profession. From their refusal to guarantee any level of weekly occupancy in episodic television, to the creation of a “daily rate” in comedy variety shows, to their filibustering of free work for writers and artificial intelligence for all writers, they have closed the door to their work vigor and opened the door to writing as an entirely freelance profession. No such agreement could ever be contemplated by this membership.
The guild wants a guaranteed minimum number of weeks of employment per season, ranging from 10 weeks to 52 weeks.
He also wants to establish some sort of policy around AI and authorship, especially if a writer’s ideas are used as the basis for AI-generated work. The guild also wants a streaming holdover that affects the success of the shows, but the studios have declined the offer.
The Alliance of Film and Television Producers has been more vague about its goals, as well as a desire to see production continue. A recent statement from the group said: “We are all partners in charting the future of our business together and are fully committed to reaching a mutually beneficial agreement with each of our contractual partners. The goal is to keep production going so that we can all keep working and continue to provide consumers with the best entertainment product available in the world.”
However, the AMPTP said it was “willing to engage in discussions with the WGA in an effort to break this impasse.”
Supporting the WGA are SAG-AFTRA, the Directors Guild, IATSE, Hollywood’s Teamsters Local 399 and the American Federation of Musicians and the UK Writers’ Guild.
The longest WGA strike on record was 1988, lasting 153 days, followed by the 1960 strike of 146 days and then the 2007-2008 strike of 100 days.